The head of one of the UK’s largest car service companies has called on the government to help fund the recruitment and training of thousands more mechanics to service the growing number of electric vehicles.
Halford CEO Graham Stapleton said the number of such vehicles would increase by millions by 2030, when the government proposed banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
“We think the industry will have to add 6,000 to 7,000 people a year between now and 2030 to ensure there is a backbone of mechanics to keep these vehicles on the road,” he told the Financial Times on Wednesday.
“Everyone should lean in and support that effort,” he added. “We want the government to support the industry and invest in more apprenticeships. . . it is they who are seeking this shift in scale. ”
Halfords aims to recruit and train 2,000 technicians by March 2022 and a further 2,000 by next year, but those numbers include people working on e-bikes and scooters as well as cars.
The number of electric vehicle services provided by Halfords Autocentres more than doubled in the six months to October 1 compared to the same period two years ago, before the pandemic.
But Stapleton pointed out that outside of Halfords and other nationwide chains, such as Kwik Fit and National Tires and Autocare, the car service market has been dominated by small independent operators who may not have the resources to scale up their electric vehicle capacity fast enough.
The Association of Motor Manufacturers and Dealers predicts that by 2030 battery-powered vehicles will make up a fifth of all cars in the UK, equivalent to around 7 million vehicles compared to around 350,000 at present.
Although electric vehicles is in many respects mechanically simpler than conventional cars, with no spark plugs, exhaust systems or conventional gearboxes, they still require specialist service.
Stapleton said their increased weight means they need more frequent tire changes and suspension adjustments, while electronic driving aids commonly installed on electric motors also require periodic recalibration.
His comments reflect those of the Institute of the Motor Industry, which estimated that 90,000 car technicians would be needed by 2030, but predicts that at current rates there will be a shortage of 35,700 technicians by that time.
The Department of Transport said it recognized workforces needed the right skills, and that it had “launched a number of initiatives” and endorsed an industry scheme to ensure UK UK mechanics were well trained to operate electric vehicles. repair and maintain “.
Electric propulsion in other forms was also a blessing for Halfords. Sales of e-bikes and scooters were 140 per cent higher than two years ago in the first half, it said on Wednesday, which helped boost overall sales by £ 695 million – 8.7 per cent higher than last year and 19 percent over the previous year.
The company also upgraded its full-year forecasts, saying it now expects to report pre-tax profits of £ 80 million to £ 90 million compared to a previous estimate of £ 75 million.
Shares in the West Midlands-based group, which rebounded from the highs reached during the Covid-19 pandemic, rose 16 percent in early afternoon trading due to the upgrade.